How you can deal with workplace bullying

Jul 10, 2019

Dealing with workplace bullying can be terrifying for an affected employee and tricky for a manager, but it’s not impossible.

A recent article in Forbes reported that every day someone is being bullied at work and that no part of an organisation is immune from workplace bullying.

In a survey of employees that left their workplace in the first 12 months, 62 percent stated that it was due to hostile working environments.

Workplace bullying is defined as repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee, that creates a risk to health and safety. In an office setting this behaviour isn’t always obvious and can come across in the form of small, passive comments or actions that build up over time.

 “Workplace bullying not only impacts one's happiness but injures their health, productivity and self-confidence leaving victims feeling stuck and powerless,” – Forbes.

So, what can you do to help prevent or take a stand against bullying?

Tips for employees

Everyone has a role to play when it comes to spotting and calling out inappropriate behaviour. As an employee you can:

  • address your own behaviour – showing courtesy and being respectful of others helps create a more positive environment
  • support your workmates – check in with colleagues you think are being targeted and let them know you’re there to help
  • speak up against bullying (if you feel comfortable) – pull up anyone being disrespectful towards you or others in the workplace
  • lead by example – understand your organisation’s expectations and set the standard for others

If you are being bullied or have witnessed bullying in your workplace, there are many steps you can take to resolve the situation. See our bullying information for employees page for more details.

Tips for managers

The most effective way to stamp out bullying is to stop it before it starts. This means creating a strong, consistent approach to prevent poor behaviour from escalating, and a positive, respectful work culture where bullying is not tolerated. You can:

  • identify and act on bullying early – respond quickly and effectively to show bullying isn’t tolerated
  • be alert – look for risks and signs of bullying such as increased absences or low staff morale
  • manage workplace stress – ensure your employees understand their roles and have the appropriate skills to do their job to reduce issues that could lead to bullying. Reassess workloads if necessary.
  • foster a culture of care – look for ways you can develop productive, respectful workplace relationships in your role. This could be through training and development opportunities.

For more information on what to do if you have witnessed or have been accused of bullying, see our information for managers or employers.


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